Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Automated immigration service won't threaten nat'l security

Published:Friday | November 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Jennifer McDonald (left), CEO of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), assists Lorraine Evans with processing, during the official launch and demonstration of automated immigration kiosks for arriving passengers at the The Government Lounge, Norman Manley International Airport, yesterday. - Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

National Security Minister Peter Bunting has given assurance that the introduction of automated immigration kiosks in Jamaica will not put the nation's safety at risk.

At the same time, Bunting said Jamaicans worried about the threat of the deadly Ebola virus have nothing to worry about as a special method of screening, which is supported by the automated system in the kiosks, has been designed to capture the travel history and nationalities of arriving passengers.

Ten of the kiosks, which were unveiled yesterday, have been placed at the Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, St James, and five at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston as part of the Government's thrust to improve border management and speed up the processing time for travellers.

Bunting, who was speaking at the launch, underscored that the kiosks are linked to the Automated Passenger Information System (APIS), and will, therefore, allow the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) to detect persons of interest to law enforcement by crosschecking incoming passengers against the nation's watch list.

Noting that there has been an increase in the number of suspects apprehended at local airports, the minister said PICA would also be able to conduct appropriate security checks by way of an in-built matrix.

"While this development will reduce physical interaction between immigration and passengers, we are confident that the security of the nation will not be compromised," Bunting insisted.

"The system is so rigorous that it makes it much easier to match your stop order or your watch list against the passenger travel list," he added.

The kiosks were acquired by PICA through funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund. According to PICA, the machines are expected to speed up the processing of passengers moving through immigration, as the average interaction time is said to be approximately 60 seconds.

Passengers who will be able to use the kiosks include Jamaican nationals with a valid passport, visitors using an electronic passport with biometric information, Caribbean nationals who are members of CARICOM and travellers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, who use machine-readable travel documents.

On the other hand, PICA said passengers who use wheelchairs, families with children under 18 years old, and persons travelling with permits and emergency certificates will not be able to use the kiosks.